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  • Jack H. Bender

Building More Houses Faster

Building More Houses Faster

At Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity’s annual luncheon, Executive Director Don Wilkinson remarked that Habitat hopes to double its current annual completion rate of 5.1 homes and, eventually, even double that. Thinking that Habitat already puts all of its resources into five homes, it left a question. “How do you double output that already takes everything you’ve got?” I had to find out.

I called Don and asked my burning question. How are you going to double output? Don chuckled and said, “Money!” His longer and more serious answer is that the availability of land and adequate funding are the two ever-present challenges for Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity. And “going bigger” will take community partners. Last year’s multi-unit project on State Street in Zeeland was the maiden voyage of how to increase the number of housing units per year. I wrote about the project on May 16.

In 2020, Habitat’s doubled goal is ten units, a five-plex and five individual homes. Don indicated that the initiative will require grant dollars from the Federal Home Loan Bank Program. From the AHP website:

We strive to impact the communities our Indiana and Michigan members serve, and the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) is a key part of our community-driven focus.

Each year, FHLBank Indianapolis member financial institutions (members) partner with local not-for-profit housing providers, economic development partners, and housing developers (sponsors) to compete for AHP grants of up to $500,000. These grants help fund the acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of properties for use as affordable rental or ownership. Since 1990, FHLBank Indianapolis has awarded more than $283 million to create or rehabilitate single and multi-family housing in Indiana and Michigan.

Don shared that an important annual housing report can be found at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing:

With the economy on sound footing and incomes ticking up, household growth has finally returned to a more normal pace. Housing production, however, has not. The shortfall in new homes is keeping the pressure on house prices and rents, eroding affordability—particularly for modest-income households in high-cost markets. While demographic trends should support a vibrant housing market over the coming decade, realizing this potential depends heavily on whether the market can provide a broader and more affordable range of housing options for tomorrow’s households.

Affordable housing is the key to moving families out of poverty. Spread the word and direct at least some of your time, talent and treasure to local, affordable housing.

To learn more:

Harvard National Housing Report for 2019

Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity

My May 16 blog post on Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity’s Zeeland project

Federal Home Loan Bank, Affordable Housing Program (AHP)


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